Coming Clean

I knew I liked girls before I knew liked boys and I clearly remember the day I discovered this truth.

I am three, four at most, and I am sitting on a bench at the mall near our house. Everything around me is a blur but I can still picture my little kid self sitting there across from the JC Penney. My parents are not near me but I am not afraid; therefore, I know I am not lost.

There is a Claire’s Boutique across from my bench, and from my perch I am admiring the shiny jewels of the earrings. Suddenly, in my peripheral vision, I catch a glimpse of something…no, someone…I turn and I see a woman.

She is tall, and blond, and beautiful. Her skirt is short and her legs are long. Her blouse is flowy and so is her hair. I look at her face and my breath catches. I wonder what it would be like to kiss her.

Looking back, I remember that I immediately felt so ashamed of myself, and I banished the thought from my mind. I had learned the rules but not the exceptions. I had learned that mommies married daddies. Girls liked boys. Girls did not kiss other girls.

Once elementary school started, things got complicated. I went to Catholic school. It was then I learned that I was going to Hell. I was a good kid. I listened to my parents. I didn’t steal. I only lied sometimes when I was scared I would get in trouble. I thought only bad people went to Hell. Bad people and little girls who like other little girls.

I pushed the bad thoughts deep into my being hoping it wasn’t too late to change. I didn’t want to go to Hell so I told no one how I felt. If nobody else knew, maybe it wouldn’t be true. I told myself I liked boys and ONLY BOYS.

But it wasn’t true. I couldn’t change. So I hung on to my “public” self and my “private” self. Finally, when I was 13-years-old, I learned that there were other people out there who were like me. Except, they weren’t afraid about going to Hell. In fact, they thought it was normal to like other girls. Maybe…maybe I was normal, too?

I came out that year on my LiveJournal. I had yet to speak my thoughts aloud even to myself in private. Now, I was typing the words that were me. I was admitting to myself and everyone who I was. Just as I was finishing my manifesto, my mother happened to pass behind me.

“Don’t write that! It’s just a phase. What would people think?! Later when you change your mind, you will be embarrassed when people bring that up, you know. How would your brother feel if his friends saw that?!”

That was the most devastating moment in my story. She was supposed to love me no matter who I was. In a moment of real and tangible vulnerability, she struck me down in a moment of concern for my brother. Her words cut me to the core and they ring in my ears today. I still love my mother dearly, but our relationship changed irrevocably that day.

That was half a lifetime ago. Things have changed in the world. There is no longer the stigma there used to be. I have not changed. It was not a phase. However, after my initial coming out, I have only told those closest to me who I really am. I still feel deeply wounded and saying those words, typing them even, is a risk that is still difficult to take.

One thing remains true: I was not embarrassed then and I am not embarrassed now. Scared, yes. Ashamed, no. I already came out 13 years ago. Now it’s time to come clean.

I am InnatelyKait. I am bisexual and I am finally free.

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I am an art history student extraordinaire doing research on Hellenistic Sculpture in Ancient Greece. I also moonlight as a multitasking office assistant. Yes, I am really that awesome. In a past life (or career really) I was a photographer. Chocolate and ugly baby animals keep me from being as awesome as I could be. I know all the names of the cats in my building (but not the names of their humans) so I guess I am the crazy cat neighbor.

2 thoughts on “Coming Clean”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I grew up with a friend who came out to her Catholic parents in her teens and it was a terrible experience for her. This was decades ago and I like to imagine that things are better, but the reality is that it still requires a lot of bravery to tell your truth, knowing that it could change the way the people you care about most feel about you.

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